Through a Jungian Lens

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Containers of Soul and Shadow

with 4 comments

Along a WuZhen canal, March 2011

Today’s photo comes from those I took last weekend at WuZhen in ZheJiang province.  Though the place is for tourists to glimpse at a China that no longer exists, perhaps never existed, there is enough of today’s Chinese psyche in evidence, bits of what could be called a “lived in” kind of evidence such as these containers that are hidden behind the building which is yet another tourist shopping stop.

These containers do have a purpose, a mundane purpose that has more to do with daily living than about the human psyche.  These containers hold water, oil, and often the slops of the kitchen.  These are the things we place behind us as we work hard to present a more palatable “face” to the world.  Yet, it is in the daily living that one truly discovers the human psyche.

We often get side-tracked with the outliers, the things that are different or unique. We look to cataclysmic events, bigger-than-life poets, philosophers, artists, leaders and gurus in hopes of discovering that which is hidden from our consciousness.  We are always looking outwards for we believe that what is within is worthless, almost empty.

Each of us is a container with our own water, oil and slops hidden within.  We deny our worthiness or we deny our contents.  Either way, we dishonour the truth about self.  That which we hide is shadow stuff and the resonances of soul.  It is hard for us to believe that we truly are holy vessels, each of us a holy grail containing soul.  We see ourselves as just so much dross, not gold.  We are too wrapped up in the darkness, the shadow that exists within and expend most of our time projecting the shadows onto others in a hope of exorcising this darkness.  Whatever time is left, whatever energy is left is spent in trying to bribe or lure an external holiness to accept us, to save us.

Yet all the while, it is always here, within.  Each of us is a container, a holy chalice that is home to soul.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

March 24, 2011 at 9:13 am

4 Responses

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  1. Wow, Robert!! WONDERFUL reflections! Of course it is the truth about China as it’s leaders act out their shadow dimensions (Tibet: killing, torture, etc., 1-child policies, hoarding their rare earth supplies to drive price, lack of caring for their own citizens’ welfare, etc.)
    But how wise to bring home to our own hearts the semi-conscious mixture of negative beliefs we hold about our own holy mission: to live as a ‘holy chalice for soul’ (beautifully stated). Learning about our own shadow projections & negative beliefs about ourselves is a major first step to owning our ability to live, believe, and act in the life of the soul.
    Ruth Martin (DPA)

    Ruth Martin

    March 26, 2011 at 4:19 am

    • It’s the same truth as with all of our leaders in all of our countries, religions and group entities. One needs to be careful about projecting shadow on others as doing so ALWAYS points to a deeply repressed shadow within. Thanks, Ruth for you comments. 🙂


      March 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm

  2. I think of shadow projection as a way of denying that we are fallible humans, subject to making mistakes and capable of harming others. By projecting out our own shadow upon others, we shift the burden of responsibility to them…and in the process, we lose an opportunity to learn about ourselves.

    Psychological projection can be a useful aid to self-knowledge…if only if we are consciously aware of it. But it’s mostly done unconsciously, which makes it quite a tricky habit to catch oneself on.

    Cathy Sander

    January 1, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    • Hi Cathy, I am glad that you have found my site and have taken the time to reflect here. You are right about us being fallible beings that are prone to making mistakes and causing harm to ourselves and others, unconsciously. All projections are products of the unconscious as Jung tells us. Once one has gained an awareness of what has happened, the projection evaporates so-to-speak. Have a great New Year, Cathy. I look forward to your returning here and gifting me with more of your thoughtful words.


      January 3, 2012 at 10:02 am

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